MLB Notebook: Felix, Iwakuma in rarefied air
Mariners' duo motoring toward historic marks; Harper, Gio pacing Nats
When Giants right-handers Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry each finished the 1966 season with strikeout-to-walk ratios above five, they were only the ninth and 10th pitchers since 1893 to qualify for the ERA title and produce such a mark. Cy Young had done it three times, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson had done it once, Sandy Koufax had done it twice, and the achievement for Marichal in '66 marked the second time he had reached that plateau.
With a pair of Mariners right-handers threatening to join Marichal and Perry in a small club of teammates to each have ratios of at least five-to-one in the same year, the 2013 season currently features six pitchers above the mark (in addition to Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright, the Mets' Matt Harvey, the Phillies' Cliff Lee and the Tigers' Max Scherzer are all at this level). Those six would equal the most in any one season since 1998, when the Majors expanded to 30 teams.
On Thursday, Iwakuma allowed four hits and one walk in six innings of scoreless ball vs. the Twins to pick up his 10th win of the year. Iwakuma leads the American League in both WHIP (0.95) and K/BB ratio (5.86).
Iwakuma and teammate Hernandez are 1-2 in the AL in K/BB ratio, with Hernandez owning a 5.44 mark. Six teams between 1893-2012 have featured two (or three) qualifying pitchers with marks of at least five-to-one: the 1966 Giants (Marichal and Perry), the '67 Twins (Jim Kaat and Jim Merritt), the '96 Braves (Greg Maddux and John Smoltz), the 2001 D-backs (Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling), the '11 Phillies (Roy Halladay and Lee), and the '05 Twins (Brad Radke, Johan Santana and Carlos Silva).
No Mariners pitcher has ever finished a season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and a WHIP below 1.00, with Randy Johnson's 1.05 in 1995 standing as the franchise's low mark.
Harper, Gio leading way for Nats
Bryce Harper hit a game-ending, two-run home run to give the Nationals a 9-7 win over the Pirates. The homer -- the second career walk-off hit for Harper (his other was a single) -- gives the second-year player 36 career home runs. With those three dozen, Harper is tied with Mickey Mantle for the sixth most in history for a player through his age-20 season. Harper also doubled and singled in the victory, giving him 84 career extra-base hits and 372 total bases. In the former category, he is currently tied with Vada Pinson and Robin Yount for the 13th most for a player through his age-20 season. And in the latter category, he currently holds down the 20th spot for that age group.
For the second consecutive game, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez tied a career high with 11 strikeouts.
Gonzalez is the first Expos/Nationals player to have back-to-back games with at least 11 K's since Pedro Martinez in August 1997, when Pedro had three straight. Martinez's three-game streak followed an earlier five-game streak of 11-plus K's (in his first five starts in June, he struck out 12, 13, 14, 12 and 11, and then finished the month with a 10-strikeout game*).
*Martinez finished that June 1997 with 72 strikeouts, the fourth most for any pitcher in that particular month since 1916. Nolan Ryan (1977) had 87, Koufax ('62) had 73 and Frank Tanana ('75) also had 73.
Gonzalez's 11 K's came in a start that lasted 5 2/3 innings. He is the second Expos/Nationals player -- after Scott Sanderson on Sept. 16, 1982 -- to have at least 11 K's and not reach six innings. Sanderson fanned 11 Mets in a five-inning start.
Here and there
• Hiroki Kuroda allowed six hits in seven innings, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for two innings of one-hit ball, and the Yankees shut out the Rangers, 2-0. For Kuroda, this line gives him 12 starts since the beginning of the 2012 season in which he has finished an outing with at least seven innings and no runs allowed. Those 12 are the most in the Majors (Hernandez has 11), and the most for a Yankees pitcher over a two-year span since Ron Guidry had 16 in 1977-78. While three of Kuroda's efforts have seen him go the distance, 14 of Guidry's 16 were shutouts.
• Toronto's Mark Buehrle threw a two-hit shutout vs. the Astros, striking out nine with two walks. With the performance, Buehrle now has five career shutouts on two or fewer hits (a perfect game, a no-hitter, a one-hitter and a pair of two-hitters). Those five tie him with Justin Verlander, Tim Hudson and Hernandez for the second most among active pitchers, with Halladay having seven.
• Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio took a no-decision in a start that ended with him throwing seven innings of two-hit, no-run ball and striking out nine. Nicasio is the third pitcher in franchise history to have a start that featured seven (or more) innings, no more than two hits and no runs and at least nine strikeouts. The other two -- Ubaldo Jimenez in 2008 and Jorge De La Rosa in '10 -- did pick up a win in their outings. Nicasio is the 50th pitcher since 1916 to have a no-decision in a seven-plus innings start that featured two or fewer hits, no runs, and at least nine K's. Of the 50, five have occurred in 2013 (tied with 1997 for the most in any one season).
• In the Cubs' 3-1 loss to the D-backs, Junior Lake went 1-for-4, giving him 15 hits through his first seven games -- tied for the third most for any player since 1916. The Cardinals' Bo Hart had 18, followed by the Twins' Kirby Puckett (16), the Indians' Riggs Stephenson (15), the Giants' Al Gallagher (15), and the Reds' Jay Bruce (15).
Lake has also recorded at least one hit in each of his first seven games. He is the 70th player since 1916 to do that, and one of six Cubs players. The other five: Joe Munson, Andy Pafko, Ed Sauer, Gale Staley and Jerome Walton.
• In the Angels' win over the Athletics, Mike Trout went 1-for-4 to put his slash line at .321/.398/.556 for the season. With a park-adjusted OPS currently sitting at 168 (following his 168 OPS+ from last season), Trout is looking at the possibility of reaching heights achieved by Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. In baseball history, those two are the only pair to have a pair of seasons -- through their age-21 season -- in which they qualified for the batting title and posted an OPS+ of at least 160.
• Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson picked up his 11th win of the year, allowing three runs and five hits in seven innings. Since converting to a starter for the 2010 season, Wilson ranks among the top five among Major League southpaws in wins, winning percentage, innings, hits per nine, and ERA+. He is also eighth in strikeouts.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.